John Cena Versus CM Punk: Who Won in the End?
The last several months have been quite interesting. I was at WrestleMania 29 in MetLife Stadium when Undertaker kept the streak alive against CM Punk. I was there when John Cena won the WWE Championship for the 11th time against The Rock.
And for quite some time, there have been a lot of questions floating around in my head. Ever since CM Punk won and lost the WWE Championship, I've been struggling to find meaning.
I've been struggling to find meaning in WWE's decisions and unravel the direction in which the company, or rather Vince McMahon, wants to go.
It is obvious that John Cena is and has been the face of the company for a long time. And this fact does not seem likely to change in the near future.
The last three years, unfortunately, have been all about giving the most important title in the company back to John Cena. Don't be fooled by the Miz, or CM Punk, or even The Rock. Don't even let yourself be fooled by Ryback.
I'm not naive. John Cena is where he is for a reason. If he didn't make money for the company, Vince McMahon would have fired him long ago.
But Vince has the opportunity to make anyone a star. Raw and SmackDown are his shows. He has the television time. He has the pay-per-view time. He has the ability to push and bury whoever he wants, whenever he wants.
And as much as CM Punk tried, and wrestled, and clawed, and delivered night after night, on the mic and in the ring, he never became "the man." He proclaimed his WWE title streak, week after week, and for once, John Cena was right.
It was irrelevant because every great feud goes back and forth. Between Rock and Cena, each man had a win. Hulk Hogan lost many times to Andre the Giant before he delivered the scoop slam heard 'round the world. Steve Austin beat The Rock two times at WrestleMania before Rock eventually came out on top. The list goes on and on.
But between CM Punk and John Cena, there was never any doubt—Cena was always presented as the better man. Cena was righteous. And Cena never lost to CM Punk fairly. Never. You could even argue that their matches never really had a definite finish.
Until one night on Monday Night Raw, when John Cena delivered an Attitude Adjustment that put all doubt to rest. CM Punk was never the man. He was just holding John Cena's title.
CM Punk's last attempt at glory was challenging the most prestigious streak in all of pro-wrestling history—the Undertaker's. If he could defeat Undertaker, then his loss to John Cena, to the face of the company, would be nothing.
And while it was, by far, the best match on WrestleMania 29's card, CM Punk's loss seemed to seal his fate.
Last week, CM Punk walked out on the WWE Universe—and for good reason.
What are the rewards for all his efforts? John Cena is back on top (although he never left). Undertaker's streak lives on. Vince McMahon seems more focused on bringing back veterans like Brock Lesnar and pushing guys like Big E. Langston than celebrating the CM Punks and Daniel Bryans of the world.
So again, I ask, who won? I'd say neither man.
As much credit as can be given to John Cena, what has he done to bring the WWE to the next level? Hulk Hogan brought wrestling to mainstream attention like never before. Stone Cold spearheaded the Attitude Era. The Rock laid the groundwork for the link between Hollywood and WWE.
John Cena has carried the company on his back for years. But where has he taken the company? I ask you to tell me where. And while CM Punk is not the greatest wrestler that ever lived, he symbolized change.
CM Punk represented a new type of superstar. A new way of doing things. And CM Punk was always and will forever be a true underdog. Don't be fooled. John Cena is not an underdog. If he ever was, he stopped being one a long time ago.
But hope is not lost. If CM Punk decides to return, he has the opportunity to turn the last three years into a true underdog success story. Forget John Cena vs Undertaker. Forget the Rock vs Brock Lesnar. Forget CM Punk vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin.
While they would all be great matches that would sell well, the real story over the last three years that's never been presented at WrestleMania has been between John Cena and CM Punk.
It's a story that's very personal. It's a story that can blur the lines of truth. It's a story that can be marketed to everyone around the world.
It's a story that can usher in a new era of wrestling.
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